By Samar Khoury,
Brooke Shields may have gotten her first modeling gig at 11 months old and starred in her first film when she was a teenager, but she’s just getting started. In fact, the Endless Love star has been busy promoting confidence in women, operating her business and telling her life story in a gripping new documentary. As Shields’ business states, the beginning is now.
Beginning is Now, Shields’ online platform and lifestyle brand, was 58 years in the making as she puts it—it’s her endeavor and her endeavor only. “I just wanted to create a community where we could learn from each other, be inspired by each other, feel empowered and feel there’s nothing to be guilty about if you want to start something new and just do what you want for yourself,” she told Professional WOMAN’s Magazine. Up until now, Shields hasn’t lived life on her own terms, and through her platform, she aims to inspire women to take charge of their own lives.
Conversation in the Community
Even before its launch in 2021, Beginning is Now started forming the community that Shields always hoped for—conversations flowed about the new venture, garnering a whopping 1.3 million Instagram followers who couldn’t wait to see what the actress, model and activist had to offer. “I didn’t want to sell anything in the beginning because I sold things for everybody else for the rest of the world forever, and this is not about that. This is about conversation in the community,” she said.
A year after Shields launched Beginning is Now, she expanded to the health and wellness space. Part of her inspiration for the brand was graceful aging and self-care; encouraging women 40+ to embrace their age.
“There is so much to be offered from these women in this particular age of their life because of their experience, their knowledge and where they are in their maturity, perspective and versatility,” she said. “To me, that powerful demographic is all around us, and I don’t know why it’s not marketed to. I don’t know why it’s not sexy.”
An advocate for mental health, Shields opened up about her struggle with postpartum depression after giving birth to her eldest daughter, Rowan, and shared she was raped in her 20s. These events are recounted in Pretty Baby: Brooke Shields, the recent Hulu documentary that tells the story of Shields’ stardom, her relationship with her mother, her sexual objectification as a child and how she took control of her life story.
So, what was Shields’ life like before she reclaimed it? Let’s take a look.
Born in 1965, Shields has lived in the public eye since she started modelling. In 1978, at 11 years old, she landed her first big movie role in Pretty Baby, in which she played a child prostitute in early 20th-century New Orleans. Following her breakout role, Shields received backlash because of her nude scenes, all while living with her alcoholic mother and manager, Teri Shields.
In 1980, Shields starred in The Blue Lagoon, which is about two young people shipwrecked on a desert island who discover and give in to their sexuality. Since the film’s release, Shields became a sex symbol at just 15 years old, and as she grew up, controversy surrounded her career as certain projects were deemed too sexual—including a Calvin Klein commercial in which she famously says, “You want to know what comes between me and my Calvins? Nothing.”
While Shields was attending Princeton University, she revealed she was a virgin in her book, On Your Own, where she was then transformed from sex symbol to a symbol of “respectable” chastity. No matter what Shields did, labels followed her everywhere she went—the media dubbed her as promiscuous, then innocent. She never had her own identity or was allowed to enjoy her childhood. She became America’s quintessential definition of beauty.
Her Own Definition
But Shields has her own definition of beauty. “The path toward feeling beautiful came only through getting confidence in other areas, like going to Princeton. That type of education and freedom to have opinions and learn allowed me to have different conversations, to be able to have the wherewithal to even think about beginning my company or writing books, so that was what was sexy and beautiful to me then,” she says.
“Then it was also relationships with the people in my life and why have I chosen to make them important to me—that is beautiful,” Shields continued. “And the more I started focusing on all the things that never are really called beautiful, I saw something different physically. I started seeing a sexy body rather than fat; I started seeing a uniqueness in features of mine I didn’t really like. I never spent any time looking at myself because everybody else looked for me. What you start finding are people who see beautiful things in you, rather than just your hair, your eyebrows or your features.”
Despite Shields’ hardships, she refuses to see herself as a victim. Instead, she uses her experiences as motivation to only participate in projects she’s passionate about, spread awareness about postpartum depression and mental health, raise her two daughters, Rowan and Grier, and encourage women to follow their own path and be brave. Beginning is Now has allowed her to do just that.
Learn From the Best
And for women wishing to start their own business, too? She has advice for them as well.
“Have a clear passion about something that you want to say or show. Talk to your smart friends, learn from them, and surround yourself with people who know more than you,” Shields says. “Be ready to fall a million times and keep getting up. The idea is to keep looking forward and really learn from the best you know. There’s nothing embarrassing about saying, ‘I don’t understand this.’
“What happens, and I even fell into this pattern early, is that you immediately go to the fun part, right? You go for the vision more, and what you really need to do is find a marketing person, understand the analytics of social media, understand supply chains and you need a president who has tons of history,” Shields continues. “You’re going to want to give up, you’re going to be afraid. There’s nothing secure about it, but even the clearer you are about what you want, you may still not get it, but that’s the only way that you’re going to even get close.”
Since Shields found her voice, she hasn’t stopped pursuing her passions. Beginning is Now, is just, well, the beginning. The actress just wrapped up a film for Netflix, a romantic comedy titled Mother of the Bride. Her podcast, “Now What,” is about to start its new season. She’s rehearsing for a one-woman show. And she’s writing a new book (she’s known for her best-selling memoir, Down Came the Rain: My Journey Through Postpartum Depression, among others).
“This is one of those things where I threw everything against the wall. It’s a lot, but I feel it’s an honor to be able to be given the opportunity. Doing this movie for Netflix was probably the happiest I’ve been in a long time—I mean pure joy. It was funny, romantic, sweet, beautiful and so wonderful.”
Shields is living her life—on her own terms—and has only just begun.